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Suzuki Sidekick (1997) a value, if it's What You Really Want in a SUV



The three basics for opening a successful retail business have long been touted as location, location, location! In the car making biz, the battle cry seems to be niche, niche, niche. But how many sales niches can there be?

One might look at the Suzuki Sidekick and say "well, there's another four door shoe box on wheels with absolutely no power, AWD, and 95 horses." On the other hand, buyers may be looking for something small and inexpensive with all wheel drive that's capable of carrying four real people, has space in the station wagon-like rear for parcels and maybe even some tools, and doesn't mind looking like a 1968 mini Willys Jeepster.

You will NOT want to take a trip in the Sidekick, but once again, we hasten to point out that there is a niche of some sort for this Canada produced sport ute. Remember also that this is a "world car," and while you are wondering just who would buy it, be aware that Suzuki sells in 125 countries, most of which want utility , dependability and low price.

For 1997 you can get the Sidekick with an optional 1.8 liter 120 HP. When you drive it, don't even think about having an automatic transmission, go for the five-speed manual. This will keep you busy, 'cause if you want to keep up in freeway traffic, you have to keep up the revs.

It's easy to park and has fantastic visibility due to its tall configuration and square yards of glass. The Sport JLX has the 1.8 motor, ABS, electric windows, rear window washer/wiper and runs along on 16 inch wheels. Last week we quipped that the Suzuki X90 would make a neat lifeboat for a big Range Rover; the folks at Suzuki point out in their press material that the Sidekick would make a nice companion piece (tow) to your motor home. Prices for the Sidekick start at $13,500 to $20,000 for the sport model.

Bill Maloney -- The Auto Channel